Xi Yang Mei

This famous fan form was created in the early two thousands by Li Deyin as part of the pageantry that surrounded the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It is the second of two fan forms that Li composed for that occasion. The first was Kung Fu Fan. Both routines immediately became very popular.

This form is called Xi Yang Mei (Beautiful Sunset), or 56-Fan, or Fan II (第二套 dì èr tào, “the second way”). It is one of the most sophisticated and spectacular modern forms, first performed in Beijing by Li’s daughter, Faye Li Yip. Here she gives an amazing performance:

Xi Yang Mei is eclectic in style. Its movements are drawn from Tai Chi (both Yang and Chen), Bagua, Long Fist, Bajiquan (never heard of it! I had to look it up), sword, staff and spear, Northern and Southern Fist, even Beijing Opera. Like the music that accompanies it, Kung Fu Fan, it is a celebration of the Chinese martial arts.

Li has made more than one instructional video for this form. A new one, posted in 2020, is the first I’ve seen that has English subtitles. While I prefer to listen for the Chinese instructions (see the PDF below), it is very helpful to have English translations of the discussions where Li explains important points and also identifies the provenance of the various movements.

The tutorial is in three parts, each about thirty minutes long:

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Here is a list of the 56 movements and Li’s instructions for each: PDF Xi Yang Mei Instructions

Xi Yang Mei is a good bit more difficult than Kung Fu Fan. Also, while Kung Fu Fan is a great ensemble piece, Xi Yang Mei is more suitable for a solo performance. You do see groups of three performing Xi Yang Mei—I have performed it with two other people myself—but it’s a lot easier to field a group for Kung Fu Fan.

Xi Yang Mei is an endlessly absorbing form to study and practice. I first learned it from my friend and teacher Hu Pei Yi, and I have studied Li’s various tutorials over the years, but even so, watching this latest set of videos, I see a whole slew of corrections for myself:

Obviously, I have a long way to go yet! I can only admire the elite performances in Li’s video—I particularly like to watch Fang Mishou (on the left in the opening demonstration), who is Li’s wife and an accomplished Tai Chi master in her own right.

One especially interesting point: Talking about this form as an exercise for older practitioners, Li says that it elevates the heart rate to about 120 beats per minute, and a maximum of 150 beats per minute in its most demanding parts. Perfect.

Last year, my doctor, who knows I do Tai Chi every day, asked me about whether my practice was sufficiently aerobic. He was no doubt picturing slow, Yang-style Tai Chi (which involves more exertion than most people realize, if they haven’t tried it). Next time I see him, I’ll tell him about the heart rate for Xi Yang Mei.

Hua Wu Fan §3

I am loving Hua Wu Fan, now learning section three, which includes the Weeping Willow, the Drunken Beauty and the Moon Goddess, Cháng’é, who flies to the moon (below):


Here are the names for the third section:

  1. 迎月花开 Yíng yuè huā kāi: Flower Opens to the Moon
  2. 白蛇吐信 Bái shé tǔ xìn: White Snake Sticks out its Tongue
  3. 玉女穿梭 Yùnǚ chuān suō: Fair Lady Works the Shuttles
  4. 迎风掸尘 Yíng fēng dǎn chén: Face the Wind and Brush Away Dust
  5. 海底捞针 Hǎi dǐ tàn zhēn:  Search the Bottom of the Sea
  6. 二龙戏珠 èr lóng xì zhū: Two Dragons Play with a Pearl
  7. 青蛇出洞 Qīng shé chū dòng: Bluegreen Snake Leaves the Cave
  8. 倒挂垂柳 Dàoguà chuíliǔ: Weeping Willow Hangs Down
  9. 贵妃醉酒 Guìfēi zuìjiǔ: The Drunken Beauty [Beijing Opera!]
  10. 嫦娥奔月Cháng’é bènyuè: Moon Goddess Flies to the Moon
  11. 拨云观日 Bō yún guān rì:  Part the Clouds to See the Sun
  12. 蛟龙翻身 Jiāolóng fānshēn: Flood Dragon Turns Over

According to Pengyou Taiji Quan (Friends of Tai Chi), Zhongji Hua Wu Shan is taught at the Huawu Gongfu Centre (no website) in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province in China, north of Guangdong, south of Shanghai.

I’ve noted elsewhere that this form was created by martial arts coach Zeng Nai Liang and Hu senior lecturer Wei Xianglian. I see that Master Zeng, one of the top ten martial arts  coaches in China, visited Jason Leung’s academy right here in Texas in 2011. So sorry I missed that!

The Drunken Concubine

It is a most enjoyable challenge figuring out the Chinese names for movements, more fun than working the NYT Sunday crossword puzzle. For Huawu Fan I have an English translation, typically loose, and a fuzzy image of the Chinese characters. I am amazed every time I come up with the name, especially when random characters snap together to form a well-known phrase.

For example, the English-only list for Huawu Fan says #29 is “Concubine gets drunk on wine.” I have this image from the video:

I look up wine (红酒) and drunk  (醉) in the dictionary and ID two of the characters in the image.  I look up concubine and get this 妾, which is not what I see. I successfully draw the character I see and get this: 妃 (Imperial Concubine). I am stumped by the remaining character.

After several attempts, I draw what looks right: 贵. It means expensive, so I’m not sure. But when I assemble the four characters in order (贵妃醉酒) and enter them in the dictionary, presto! The dictionary recognizes the name of a Qing Dynasty Beijing opera Guìfēi Zuìjiǔ known as The Drunken Beauty.


See the name? It’s the four characters I’m looking for. Forget the English, the move is called Guìfēi Zuìjiǔ, after the opera. Roughly phonetically gway fay jway joe. The movement looks like this:


That name is in section 3. Here are the names for section 2. I am coming to appreciate this performer’s precise execution of the form: 中級華武四十二式太極扇.

  1. 青龙出水 Qīng lóng chū shuǐ – Bluegreen Dragon Emerges the Water
  2. 彩蝶飞舞 Cǎi dié fēi wǔ – Colorful Butterfly Flutters in the Breeze
  3. 弯弓射雕 Wān gōng shè diāo – Bend Bow Shoot Vulture
  4. 翻江倒海 Fān jiāng dào hǎi – Overturn the Rivers and Oceans
  5. 怀中揽月 Huái zhōng lǎn yuè – Embrace the Moon
  6. 燕子抄水 Yànzi chāo shuǐ – Swallow Skims the Water
  7. 金鸡独立 Jīn jī dúlì – Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg
  8. 风卷荷叶 Fēng juǎn hé yè – The Wind Curls the Lotus Leaf
  9. 顺水推舟 Shùn shuǐ tuī zhōu – Push Boat with Current
  10. 白鹤亮翅 Bái hè lìang chì – White Crane Spreads Wings
  11. 羽扇划江 Yǔ Shàn huá jiāng – Feathered Fan Paddles the River
  12. 仙女观灯 Xiānnǚ guān dēng – Spirit Woman Gazes at a Lantern

As with other fan forms, this one includes a number of names familiar from sword forms, with the fan movements mimicking swordplay. And where the sword forms feature Xianren, the Immortal, the fan form names Xiannu, the Spirit Woman.

Interesting to note that 顺水推舟 (Shun shui tui zhou), push boat with current, is an idiomatic expression for taking advantage of a situation. Turning events to one’s own benefit. Pushing the boat with the current!

Hua Wu Fan §1

I feel like Sherlock Holmes. Working from an image of the names in Chinese (below), a (somewhat loosely translated) English list, the voiceover of a video, Google translate, and the MDBG online dictionary (which allows me to draw a character if I can get the order of the brushstrokes right), I have arrived at a list of the first eight moves.


Section 1:

  1. 起勢 Qǐ Shì:  Commencing form
  2. 懒扎衣 Lǎn Zā Yī: Lazily Tying the Robe
  3. 丹凤朝阳 Dān Fèng Cháoyáng: Red Phoenix Greets the Sun
  4. 推波助澜  Tuī  Bō Zhù Lán: Push the Waves Even Higher
  5. 飞雁斜落  Fēi Yàn Xié Luò: Wild Goose Swoops Down
  6. 转身打虎  Zhuǎn Shēn Dǎ Hǔ: Turn Around Hit the Tiger
  7. 叶底采莲 Yè Dǐ Cǎi Lián: Pluck the Lotus Leaf
  8. 孔雀开屏 Kǒngquè kāipíng: Peacock Spreads its Tail

I was puzzling over the meaning of lanzayi. You would tie up a long robe to prepare for a fight. The laziness in this case might have the sense of casualness. Unhurried. Like, confident and unafraid. Maybe even to preserve an element of surprise.

Interesting: Tui Bo Zhu Lan, Push the Waves Even Higher, is a saying that means something like the English “Add fuel to the fire.”

Anyway, here are grabs of these first eight moves, from this video:

1.huawu1  2.huawu2 3. huawu3 4.huawu4 5.huawu5 6.huawu6 7.huawu7 8.huawu8

Wu/Hao Eight Forms

We are beginning a study of Wu/Hao Tai Chi in my class. This is a fifth style of Tai Chi, less well-known that the four styles usually listed (Yang, Chen, Wu and Sun). My teacher, Grandmaster Gohring, knows Grandmaster Jimmy Wong, a sixth generation lineage-holder under Wu Yu Xiang, so we’ll have access to Jimmy as we study.

Wǔ Yǔ Xiāng (武禹襄) was active in the late 19th century. He was a student of Yang Luchan, the founder of Yang style Tai Chi, and also studied briefly with Chen master Chen Qing Ping. One of Wu’s students taught Hao Wei Chen, from whom both the Sun and Wu/Hao, styles are descended. The name Wu/Hao combines the names of these two founders, Wǔ 武 and Hǎo 郝, to form the name 武/郝式 Wǔ/Hǎo Shì (shì is style).

The better-known and older Wu style (吳式, Wú Shì) was created by Wu Quanyou, another student of Yang Luchan, whose family name is 吳 Wú, with rising inflection. For more detail, see Wikipedia on Wu/Hao and Wu-style Tai Chi.

We are starting with the short 8-step form, which is demonstrated by Grandmaster Wong in a nice, clear video that also shows the lineage and the names of the steps, which are as follows:

  1. 武起势 Wǔ Qǐshì
  2. 右懒扎衣 Yòu Lǎn Zā Yī
  3. 左搂膝拗步 Zuǒ lōu xī ào bù
  4. 双 抱捶 Shuāng bào chuí
  5. 栓马势 Shuān Mǎ Shì
  6. 退步懒扎衣 Tuì bù Lǎn Zā Yī
  7. 十字手 Shízì shǒu
  8. 收势 Shōu shì

The character 武 for the surname Wǔ is the same as the character for the Wǔ in wushu, the modern and general term for the Chinese martial arts. In that context 武 wǔ just means martial. In case you noticed that the Hua Wu Fan that I posted about yesterday uses the same character for Wu, it is used in this second sense, as in wushu.

Speaking of Hua Wu Fan, I found several more videos: this is a Nice one! The best! I will use it as my paradigm.


And several more:

Hua Wu Fan

We have a new member in our practice group who does a lovely fan form I had never heard of: Hua Wu fan. Actually, there are two forms, a beginner form and a mid-level form; our new friend does the mid-level form. I have not heard of a more advanced version, but I assume it must be out there somewhere.


All of the videos I have found on YouTube feature the same performer, Master Zeng Weihong (pictured in the grab above) [Not Connie Ho as I originally thought–see Simon’s comment below]. If I had only seen the video, I probably wouldn’t have been especially interested, but after seeing it in person, by Xiao Liao, we all love it,  and we’ve asked her to teach it to us. Here are videos of both forms; we are learning the mid-level one.

The Chinese names of the forms (the names we use) are:

  • 初级华武扇初级 Chūjí  Huá Wǔ Shàn (Primary-level Hua Wu Fan)
  • 中级华武扇 Zhōngjí  Huá Wǔ Shàn (Primary-level Hua Wu Fan)

Shan, of course, is fan. Ji is the word for level or rank. You might recognize the word zhong, for middle: Zhong guo is China—literally middle country. Hua means flowery or splendid. As for the names of the movements, they appear at the beginning of the zhongji video, but only as images of Chinese characters. I did find a list in English, but I am working on deciphering the Chinese. I’ve only figured out a few names so far.

Zhongji Hua Wu Shan is a combined form, with elements of the four main styles (Yang, Chen, Wu and Sun). Unlike the other combined forms I know, which are mostly Yang, this one seems to me mostly Wu (from what little I know about Wu). I read on the Web that the form was created by national martial arts coach Zeng Nai Liang and Hu senior lecturer Wei Xianglian.

Master Faye Yip Videos

I came across some new (to me) videos of Master Faye Li Yip. Excellent! The first is Tai Chi sword. It’s made up of several clips, the first of which looks like 42-sword, but most of it is Wudang Tai Chi sword. Beautiful!

Master Faye Li Yip

Master Faye Li Yip-Tai Chi sword

The other two are both Fan Form II, both beautiful performances (and great uniforms, especially the pink and black).


Faye2The video on the left was posted on the Deyin Institute Facebook page (like it!) on August 11, 2015 with lyrics to Xi Yang Mei, which turns out to be all about China’s martial arts (“crouching like a bow,
standing like a pine”). Translation by John Fairbairn.

I tend to consider Master Faye’s demonstrations of this form definitive, seeing as her father created the form. A third video of this form, also by Faye Yip, can be found on the page for Fan Form II.

Kung Fu Fan

Also called 52-step fan,  Fan Form I, or Taiji Gong Fu Shan, this form was created by Master Li Deyin in 2001. Here is a wonderful video of his daughter Faye Li Yip performing (pictured below).

Fan Form


As usual, Michael Garofalo provides a wealth of information on Cloud Hands, including a PDF of the movement names, which for the most part, mean little to me (except for Slant Flying, White Crane and a couple of others) and links to numerous video perfomances.

The form, like the song (Beauty of Sunset, Xi Yang Mei) has six parts. Part one is slow, Part two faster, Part Three faster yet, ending with a little tattoo. Part four is a repeat of part two. Part five is quite fast and staccato, culminating with crash and drumroll. Part six is slow and Yang-y.

Here are my notes from Pommelhouse, using names as Long Feng taught me:

Part 1 of 6:

  • Opening
  • Slant Flying
  • White Crane Spreads Wings
  • Hornet’s Hole (step L,R)
  • Rebels to Sea (pivot on R, step L)
  • White Crane Stands on Left Leg
  • Force Split Chinese Mountain (R, L, R)
  • Civet Rat (snake L, R, L, flip fan)
  • Sit Horse Flower (snake R, horse stance)

Part 2 of 6:

  • Part the Wild Horse’s Mane (feet stay put)
  • Chuyan Volley (White Crane w/feet together, fist)
  • Hornet’s Hole
  • Tiger’s Prey (step back R, forward L, push)
  • Mantis Stalks Cicada (kick stand)
  • Lema Back (step around R,L twirl fan)
  • Turning Tibet Fan (snake)
  • Sit Horse Flower

Part 3 of 6:

  • Ding Push Hill (push fan R)
  • Dragon Back (poke fan L)
  • Whiplash Horse (wind up turn L snap back)
  • Flew Swagger (snap stand R, cat L)
  • Arms Hold On (sink fan front)
  • Windward Liaoyi (stand tall fan points down)
  • Inverted Flower Wuziu (step R, point L, cross L sink)
  • Xiang Yu Yang Fan (fan front)
  • Hold Fan Interlude (starting position)

Part 4 of 6:

    Repeat Part 2!

Part 5 of 6:

  • Strike back with both elbows
  • Horse Shaking Fist (strike w/ two backfists)
  • Hop right cat stance
  • Kick with Right
  • Dragon intersect (R, ball-change L, kick back)
  • Lady Shuttle (stand w/ fan in front)
  • Tiannvsanhua (fan flutters over head)
  • Overlord Palm (close fan sit snap) Line Step Interlude (walk in circle)

Part 6 of 6:

  • Seven Star Hand (kick stand left)
  • Ward off right
  • Pull back and press
  • Su Bei Jian (fan behind back, push)
  • Brush Knee Twist Step
  • Single Whip
  • Bow to Shoot Tiger (snake pose)
  • Bai He Liang Chi
  • Close Form

The creation of the Taiji Kungfu Fan Form was completed in January 2001 in Beijing.  The first public demonstration of this new creation took place on February 18, 2001, by 2008 senior Taiji enthusiasts at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

 – Faye Li Yip